Youth football helmets are currently designed to the same standards as adult helmets, even though little is known about how child football players impact their heads. This is the first study to investigate the head impact characteristics in youth football, and will greatly enhance the development of improved helmets specifically designed for children.
The Auburn Eagles, a local, Montgomery County, Va., youth team consisting of 6 to 8 year old boys, has participated in the study since August. The helmets of the child football players are instrumented with custom 12 accelerometer arrays that measure how a child's head responds to impact. Each time a player impacts his head, data are recorded and wirelessly downloaded to a computer on the sideline.
The technology is similar to what Virginia Tech has used since 2003 to instrument its collegiate football team. "The research conducted with the Virginia Tech football team has led to a better understanding of head impacts in football and how they relate to concussions," said Stefan Duma (http://www.sbes.vt.edu/duma.php), the Virginia Tech professor of biomedical engineering and department head of the Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences (SBES) that directs this project.
Furthermore, this research has led to the development of the National Impact Database (http://www.sbes.vt.edu/nid), which contains the first safety rating system ever available for adult football helmets (STAR Evaluation System). Similar developments for youth football are anticipated from the current study with the Auburn Eagles.
"Based on eight years of studying head impacts experienced by Virginia Tech football players, we were able to quantify exposure for adult football players relative to impact location, severity, and frequency," Duma said. "Unfortunately, we cannot translate the adult exposure to the youth helmets because the impact conditions of youth football are completely unknown. To solve this problem, we are applying the same approach that we have used with the Virginia Tech football team to a youth football team," Duma added.
The instrumentation wasn't compatible with the older helmets that were initially provided for the youth team, so Virginia Tech purchased new helmets for the entire team. "The kids are very excited about wearing the same technology in their helmets that the Virginia Tech football team has worn over the last eight years," said Ray Daniel, the graduate student whose master's thesis will be focused on the study.
"The parents, kids, and coaches have been very cooperative and are all excited about being part of this important study that will lead to better design guides for youth football helmets," added Daniel, who performs the daily duties for the study and who is at every practice and game. All players and parents have consented to the study in accordance with the Virginia Tech Institutional Review Board procedures.
To date, over 400 head impacts experienced by the youth football team have been collected and analyzed. "Not only are the impacts generally less severe in youth football when compared to adults, but the frequency of the most severe impacts is substantially lower," Duma said. While most of the impacts collected have been of very low severity; surprisingly, a few impacts are approaching impact levels associated with concussion in adult football players. The goal of this study is to completely quantify and characterize the head impact conditions of youth football, which will provide guidelines to aide manufacturers in designing better helmets for children.
"We have a unique opportunity to quantify the distribution of head impacts experienced by youth players, which no one has ever looked at before," said Steven Rowson (http://www.cib.vt.edu/people/bios/faculty_bios/bio_rowson.html), research assistant professor of biomedical engineering and creator of the STAR Evaluation System for football helmets. Rowson, who also helped design the sensors that are currently in the youth helmets, added, "By knowing these impact distributions, we can develop a safety rating system for youth football helmets that will supplement the National Impact Database. This not only educates consumers on relative helmet safety, but also provides improved design criteria for helmet manufacturers."
This work has implications that are not limited to improved helmets in football, but also has applications towards improved head protection in other sports, as well as advancements in automobile safety designs. Funding for this project is provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS) at Virginia Tech.
Lynn Nystrom | EurekAlert!
Self-organising system enables motile cells to form complex search pattern
07.05.2019 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Mouse studies show minimally invasive route can accurately administer drugs to brain
02.05.2019 | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.
Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...
Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.
The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...
Discovery by Brazilian and US researchers could change the classification of two species, which appear more akin to jellyfish than was thought.
The tube anemone Isarachnanthus nocturnus is only 15 cm long but has the largest mitochondrial genome of any animal sequenced to date, with 80,923 base pairs....
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered a completely new way of capturing, amplifying and linking light to matter at the nanolevel. Using a tiny box, built from stacked atomically thin material, they have succeeded in creating a type of feedback loop in which light and matter become one. The discovery, which was recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, opens up new possibilities in the world of nanophotonics.
Photonics is concerned with various means of using light. Fibre-optic communication is an example of photonics, as is the technology behind photodetectors and...
Fraunhofer IZM is joining the EUROPRACTICE IC Service platform. Together, the partners are making fan-out wafer level packaging (FOWLP) for electronic devices available and affordable even in small batches – and thus of interest to research institutes, universities, and SMEs. Costs can be significantly reduced by up to ten customers implementing individual fan-out wafer level packaging for their ICs or other components on a multi-project wafer. The target group includes any organization that does not produce in large quantities, but requires prototypes.
Research always means trying things out and daring to do new things. Research institutes, universities, and SMEs do not produce in large batches, but rather...
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
14.06.2019 | Information Technology
14.06.2019 | Materials Sciences
14.06.2019 | Medical Engineering